Sunday, October 30, 2005

What Becomes of Our Research?

In my post June 9, 2005, End Results, I asked the question, "What becomes of your research?" Librarians tend know/hope that it is used for journal articles, patient care, patient education, department guides, etc. But we can't specifically prove it.

Ah, not any more....somebody has done it, and they have published their results in the Journal of the Medical Library Association.

Value of hospital libraries: the Fuld Campus study
Theresa M. Cuddy
J Med Libr Assoc. 2005 October; 93(4): 446–449

Theresa Cuddy sought to demonstrate the value of the Health Sciences Library at Capital Health System (CHS)/Fuld Campus to the administrators and institution it serves. To do this, library feedback forms were sent to library patrons about the library services they received. The forms asked for comments about the value of the specific information they received from the library.

One of the questions on the form was:

"We like to continuously validate and keep records of the contributions that the Health Sciences Library makes to the hospital and/or patient care. Can you please take a moment and write how the information you received helped yourself and ultimately the hospital?"

Cuddy was able to determine that her services were used to support patient care 32% of the time, support presentations 14% of the time, and develop policy and procedures 11% of the time.
All of you medical librarians looking to report better statistics to your administrations, you might look at developing this kind of analysis. Other librarians, business, academic, law, and special could probably adopt this method to work for their library too.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Video iPods in Radiology

iPods aren't just for listening any more, nor are they just for fun. In my September 20, 2005 post iPod Helps Radiologists Manage Medical Images I mentioned how radiologists are using iPods to store medical images. Dr. Ratib and Antoine Rosset, M.D., a radiologist in Geneva, Switzerland, recently developed OsiriX, Macintosh-based software to display and manipulate of medical image data.

In an October 26, 2005 article on CNN, 'I use my iPod to store medical images' by Osman Ratib, goes into a little more detail about using iPods as a medical image storage devices an how he had to convert the Diacom images (radiology image standard) to jpeg so that it can be viewed on video iPods.

Dr. Ratib and his colleagues have hit on something big. The open source software is free, and is available for people to download, use, and improve. According the Ratib, recent surveys estimate that there are 6,000 active worldwide users and over the past two months the site averaged 200 download per day, with peaks up to 1,000 downloads day as new versions were released.

***Krafty's personal note***
Talk to your radiologists today about this, see if they are interested! I happened to run into the Director of Pathology and I asked him if he would be interested in seeing some brief articles on using iPods as image storage devices. He gave me a huge smile and said that he had just finished talking with our IT person about storing and transporting image files and what they could use to best accomplish this. He said he was thinking of PDAs but it had never occurred to him to use iPods. So, he was very happy to get information on that.

MLA Focus

I just received the October 27, 2005 MLA Focus in my email.

Here are some things I thought were interesting and worth reposting.

MLA '06 Paper and Poster Sessions: Abstracts Due November 7The diversity of thought-provoking programs coordinated by MLA sections and special interest groups offers exciting opportunities for you to celebrate the realm of medical librarianship and bask in its bright future at MLA '06, "Transformations A-Z," in Phoenix, AZ, May 19-24. Submit your abstracts for papers and posters by November 7

New Book on PDAs in Libraries Published by MLA and Neal-SchumanPDAs in Libraries: A How-to-Do-It Manual by MLA member Colleen Cuddy, assistant curator/systems librarian, Frederick L. Ehrman Medical Library, New York University School of Medicine-New York, is available. This practical and easy-to-understand manual explores applying PDAs to a library setting, selecting and providing PDA content, and much more. A prepublication discount rate is in effect through October 31, 2005.

Help chart the future course of the MLA News, an important MLA member benefit. Only 150 responses have been received to date. Responses to the online survey will help make the MLA News an even better publication. The survey takes approximately seven to twelve minutes to complete: register your opinions today!

Go to the October 27, 2005 MLA Focus for more information on:
  • 2006/07 MLA committee applications
  • Patient Safety Webcast, Options for Individual Participation
  • NMLM Creative Promotions Award contest
  • MLA's Independent Reading Program (IRP) to Earn CE's
  • Call for IFLA 2006 Poster Presentations
  • PLoS Announces Open Access Journal for Clinical Trials

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Spammers Jump On Bird Flu Bandwagon

Spammers Jump On Bird Flu Bandwagon
By Gregg Keizer
Wed Oct 26, 1:54 PM ET

U.K.-based Sophos warned users that it has noticed a rising number of messages peddling Tamiflu. Tamiful is the Roche-made drug that reduces symptoms of the H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus.

Sophos discovered one spammer with a message starting out, "Bird flu case discovered in the USA" as a way stoke fears and prod people into buying Tamiflu from a Web site. The statement's not true; no confirmed cases of the avian flu have yet been found in the United States.

Swiss drug maker Roche has warned consumers against purchasing Tamiflu online, saying that it has evidence some of the medication sold on the Internet is fake.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Keeping Patients Safe: Roles for Information Professionals

Keeping Patients Safe: Roles for Information Professionals

Save the Date! November 16, 2005
Time: 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. cst
Where: MLA's List of sites for individual participation to watch the broadcast

What's that? You checked the list already and there is no site currently registered near you to get the Webcast? Check out how to view the webcast from the comfort of your home or office at MLA's Individual Registration page.

Goals and Objectives of the Webcast:
To enhance knowledge about patient safety, competencies, and the skill sets needed to equip information professionals to successfully participate in patient safety initiatives in the health care setting and their communities.

  • provide an overview of the topic, issues, and individuals involved in patient safety work, such as computerized provider order entry (CPOE), evidence-based care, and a culture of safety
  • assist information professionals in identifying relevant patient safety initiatives and potential partnerships in their communities for future collaborative efforts
  • examine the various roles information professionals play in this domain
  • provide current resources for additional learning about patient safe

Updates at images.MD

(from images.MD email)

Current Medicine LLC is pleased to announce the latest updates to the images.MD library:

Our newest collection, Cardiovascular Risk Factors, contains over 750 informative images dealing with major causative factors for heart disease and other forms of cardiovascular disease as well as strategies to reduce the risk associated with these factors.

Our Nuclear Cardiology collection has just been revised with 331 brand new images plus updates to more than 35 other images. We've also added over 350 new images to our Prostate collection.

Finally, we've included an additional 350 images from the Current Reports and Current Treatment Options medical journals to enhance the value of every collection we provide.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Weblog Usability: Top Ten Design Mistakes

The LibrarianInBlack posted about Jakob Nielsen's Top Ten Weblog Design Mistakes of 2005 and it made me look at my own blog with a critical eye...gulp.

Ok let's see how many of the mistakes I am guilty of making:
  • Mistake #2 -No Author Photo- Really this is something that is important in a blog? I think there are many professional blogs out there where the author doesn't have a picture. Does the fact that there is no photo of the author does that really less user friendly? I don't see anybody saying Jenny Levine, The Shifted Librarian has usability problems because she doesn't have her picture in about me.
  • Mistake #4 -Links Don't Say Where They Go- Yep I am guilty of that at times, just take a look at my October 25 Web Mail post. However, I do try to make my links as descriptive a as possible so that you know where you are going. I find that I fall prey to this mistake when I am typing a narrative story rather than other posts.
  • Mistake #5 -Classic Hits are Buried - Ok this I am working on. I realized through a monitoring service and through comments that certain posts get a lot more looks than others. I plan on placing links to them on the side in my next redesign.
  • Mistake #6 -Calendar Only Navigation -I have been wanting to do some subject lists on my blog for quiet a while (after all I am a librarian, I like subject guides, its in my blood) but Bloglines does not currently offer an easy way to add subject navigation. From what I have heard WordPress does and I am working moving my blog to WordPress.
  • Mistake #10 -Having a Domain Name Owned By Weblog Service -Yep guilty there too, but like LibrarianInBlack I don't think it is a usabilty issue. I think it is more of professional issue which is different.

Wow, if this was a pop quiz I would have failed. But I did learn some interesting things. I still disagree with Mistakes #2 and #10 as being specifically usability issues. But it is an interesting thing to look at and use to evaluate your blog.

Web Mail for Patients and Visitors? Not Available in Some Hospital Libraries

Another medical librarian and I were talking the other day and she was complaining about how her hospital has blocked all web mail. No Yahoo mail, no Hotmail, no AOL, and of course no Gmail. She finds its absolutely frustrating to explain to patients and their families that there is no way for them to access their email to update their friends and family on the patient's progress. Equally frustrating is that there are visiting doctors and lecturers who come to her library asking to get on web mail and she again must explain that the hospital denies all access to web mail. She feels frustrated and powerless. She has begged IT to consider some sort of compromise and she has even spoken to the Chief Administrator of the Hospital. Each time she is denied because IT explains that they get the majority of their virus problems through these type of accounts. This hospital is in a major city and well regarded, yet patients and visitors are denied web mail access. But here is the kicker, this hospital is a part of a larger hospital system and the main hospital allows web mail access in their library. Even when she explains this her IT people request is denied.

What can be frustrating to some hospital librarians is to see how public and academic librarians have the freedom to explore creative ways to provide services to their users, but because many hospital librarians are at the mercy of their IT department's restrictive policies they feel like they are playing catch up just to provide basic services like web mail.

Heck, don't forget my post about the librarian who discovered that her hospital shared IP addresses with three other hospitals within her system. Try as she might she can not convince IT to fix the problem because according to her IT people it will cost too much time and money. So she is unable to build her library to the best of her ability and acquire wanted electronic resources.

I have been battling my IT department to get permission to create my own intranet web pages. Currently I am forced to "create" (I use that term very loosely) the library's intranet pages using pre-approved cookie cutter pages from the hospital's Microsoft Content Management Server templates. BLAH!!!!!! I can not create any search boxes (for patrons to search the library pages), I can not do any HTML coding (to fix problematic quirks), I can not provide a medical news blog on the library's pages, and I can not create online forms for patrons to order searches/articles. Basically it is like a glorified bulletin board which I can post some links and text.

It seems we all want to provide great service but are handcuffed within our own hospital's IT departments. We try to bang the drum and get their attention but it falls on deaf ears. These librarians are almost in a Catch-22 situation. They are told by everyone including MLA to be up to date, be relevant, be innovative, get what their users need, or you risk losing the library. But when you are restricted like this (despite your best efforts) what do you do?

How many other hospital libraries have these same problems, or are these just some isolated cases? After all, how frustrating is it to learn from MLA about RSS and how to create blogs when your hospital prohibits you from even creating a web page?!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Podcasts and Libraries

I am currently interested in how libraries are handling podcasts. I realize there are some libraries like the Gordon Library at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute who are featuring library podcasts on their web page, "weekly library wisdom for the MP3 masses. (Check out their MESHING with the Medical Professionals: PubMed podcast)

What I am interested in is whether libraries are indexing or cataloging any podcasts. Specifically I am interested whether any medical libraries are finding great medical podcasts and including them in their library content. Previously I compiled a list of places with medical podcasts, and now I want to make that list more than just a list. I am thinking of cataloging and profiling it on our physician's newsletter. Has anybody done this? What have other libraries done? We catalog audio cd's and electronic books, why not podcasts? Just curious.

Elsevier Offices Closed Due To Hurricane Wilma

(Forwarded from Medlib-l)

Because of the impending arrival of Hurricane Wilma, the Harcourt building in Orlando Fl will not be open on Monday 24th October. As a result, Elsevier Journals Customer Service and Fulfillment will not be working Monday. All in-bound Elsevier customer service numbers will have a special message indicating that we are closed due to hurricane Wilma and that we expect to be taking calls again on Tuesday. This decision is a precautionary measure following announcements from the National Hurricnane Centre to ensure the safety of Elsevier staff.

Harcourt IT will have a skeleton crew working in the Orlando data center to ensure that COPS, Boss, Hawk and other key systems are running as usual Monday. Therefore, Elsevier users of these systems outside Orlando should NOT be effected.

We will be keeping the situation under review as it unfolds, but in the meantime we apologise for any inconvenience these arrangements may cause to Elsevier customers, but hope that you will understand the situation and bear with us until things are clearer.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Online Application Now Open for the MLA CE Institute

(courtesy MLA Focus special edition)
The MLA CE Institute: Developing Web-Based Instruction, a weeklong institute on translating classroom continuing education (CE) courses to a Web-based environment, will be held March 12-17, 2006, at the MicroTek training facility in downtown Chicago.

If you would like to transfer your existing CE course to a Web-based format, this event is for you! Based on a competitive process, sixteen scholars will be chosen to spend five days in intensive training learning how to make the switch from teaching face-to-face CE to instructing on the Web.

For more information:

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Are There Adequate Alternatives to UpToDate?

(courtesy of medinfo)

Denison Memorial Library announced to its users that it will not be able to provide access to UpToDate from home.
"Many faculty and students have asked the library to reinstate off campus access to UpToDate®. We pursued new pricing, and to reinstate off campus access would cost over $330,000. That sum is equivalent to over 40% of the library’s entire budget for ALL resources. Regretfully, we will NOT be able to reinstate remote access. This decision is consistent with the trend among academic health sciences libraries nationally. "
Denison has set up trials for two alternative products to UpToDate: FirstConsult (from MDConsult) and eMedicine and they included a comparison chart so that users evaluating the products can see the differences between all three products.
I wish Denison luck in their product evaluations, I hope they get enough users with insightful responses to make an informed choice. I know of one library where they tried to evaluate FirstConsult and the received hate mail from doctors who feared that they were going to get rid of UpToDate.
Which brings me to a question that I need to ask. Why do doctors love UpToDate so much? Is the content that much different than FirstConsult and eMedicine? All three products cover approximately the same medical topics, with a few exceptions: example: UpToDate's Neurology section is in development and they do not have Urology nor Surgery section however, FirstConsult and eMedicine do.
Why aren't we hearing from Urologists and Surgeonclamoringng for FirstConsult and eMedicine, or is it just one large vocal segment of physicians (and med. students) demanding UpToDate?
How important is it for doctors to get the information from home? UpToDate has clearly outpriced itself for institutions to offer offsite access to its users. If home access is so important does that tip the scales in favor of FirstConsult and eMedicine?
How important is it for doctors to have the information on the handheld? It seems UpToDate has been rather latcomingng on to the handheld scene and they only offer PocketPC access to individual subscribers, while FirstConsult and eMedicine offer Palm and PocketPC to institutional users.
What about the EMR? In the push to get hospitals using electronic medical records, I have yet to hear about UpToDate working with EMR software companies to integrate their point of care product in the EMR. I know FirstConsult/MDConsult is currently doing that with iConsult, FirstConsult/MDConsult can be embedded into the hospital's EMR.
I realize UpToDate is good, and they were one of the first products out there to offer this kind of service. But is UpToDate's content really that much more superior to FirstConsult and eMedicine that doctors are willing to put up with a product that seems to have extremelrestrictiveve access policies and is not rapidly expanding into needed areas like the handheld and EMR market? Or are physicians apathetic? They know about UpToDate, they know it is a good product, but they don't care to learn or be bothered with other products because they are sticking with the one that they are familiar with come hell or high water.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 A New Health Information Search Engine

Healthline is a medical search engine that seeks to offer high-quality, authoritative medical information for the public.
With more and more Americans searching for health information and more questionable/bad medical information on the Internet, Healthline seeks to help consumers find the good medical information with its reported 62,000 web sites and 45-50 million pages on reliable medical information.

However, Rita Vine at SiteLines is not impressed with Healthline. Searching for information on lung cancer she believes the site "offers little to rival the best quality ad-and-sponsorship-free medical content on the web through sites like MedlinePlus. Healthline relies principally on content from popular pre-existing 3rd party .com sources that could be obtained from any commercial search engine."

Of course I was curious and decided to have a look at the site and I developed a somewhat neutral opinion to Healthline.

Vine compares Healthline to the likes of MedlinePlus, Canadian Health Network, OMNI, and PubMed. "If plain-language lay-level searching is important, there are plenty of better options out there for non-medical searchers. You don't have to speak "medicalese" to MedlinePlus, the Canadian Health Network, or OMNI, either, and even the research-focused PubMed offers spelling checks, terminology alternatives, and sophisticated back-end query reformulations to non-experts." However, I think that is a little unfair. Comparing Healthline to MedlinePlus is a little like comparing apples to oranges, they are both fruits but they are not the same flavor. More specifically it is like comparing Google to a good library's home page. Google is simply a search engine to find everything (almost) and a good library home page is a guide for research directing you specific topical resources/pages, databases, directories, etc.

Healthline is a health search engine, not something as in depth and multi-layered as MedlinePlus. To compare the two sites may not be entirely fair, a search engine and website with topical resources/pages, directories, dictionaries, etc. are used for different reasons. Librarians don't always hop on Google to solve every question, just like they don't jump on their library's website to answer every question.

What concerns me is where are these results coming from. Who selects the sites? According to Healthline, "When Healthline licenses health and wellness content from third-parties for publication on our site, the Healthline Content Management team reviews the third-party's editorial policies and procedures for consistency with the Healthline Editorial Policies, including without limitation the conflicts of interest policy. While the Healthline Content Management team may not review each page of the third-party licensed content, the team does review a representative sample of the content to ensure that the third-party implements the editorial policy and procedures reviewed by Healthline and that the content is accurate, timely and relevant." Ok, but who is the review team....doctors, librarians, little garden gnomes?

If Healthline does have some qualified professionals reviewing the information, then I compare it more to a search engine like Yahoo, but in the health information field. So far when you search for medical information within traditional search engines like Yahoo and Google, you have the chance of coming up with Uncle Joe's Tomato Cancer Cure, or worse yet Kevin Trudeau's Natural Cures in the list of results. What Healthline is allow you to use a search engine to search for medical information and not retrieve quack sites. Yes, MedlinePlus offers a way to search for reputable sites, but it does selectively limit the number of results. Perhaps somebody might want to use Healthline to get more results that were not found in MedlinePlus.

In my review for another medical search engine (Mamma Health) I criticized the way medical terminology and common vernacular terms were not cross referenced. It lead to inconsistent and possibly confusing results. In that review I mentioned that somebody searching for myocardial infarction got completely different results than if they searched heart attack. A comment from HealthRanked mentioned that Healthline uses a "relation database of over 800,000 medical terms and vernacular health terms to build an association matrix that matches consumer health searches ("sore throat") with likely medical terminology matches ("nasopharyngitis" or "Streptococcus bacteria")." I tested the relation database using myocardial infarction and heart attack. While the search results listed below weren't exactly the same many of the same sites appeared in the search results, just in different order, which is much better than Mamma Health, where key results were missing.

While I don't think one can appropriately compare Healthline (a health search engine) with something like MedlinePlus (a health metasite), Healthline can be compared to other health search engines like Mamma Health. Mamma Health health tries to be both a metasite and a health information search engine and does both poorly. Healthline focuses primarily on being a health information search engine.

Do I like Healthline? I don't know. I like the fact that it might be the Google of the medical search engines. Only time will tell as to whether I use it more than I use Google when searching for medical information on the internet. I will have to make a conscious effort to give it a shot the next time, instead of going to Google's home page. If I use it at times for when I normally would search for medical information on a search engine (like Google), only then will I know if it consistently performs up to expectations.


I want to apologize for my blog's appearance. It turns out my husband accidentally deleted my images off of the server....oops. The good news is there are backups, so I will work to restore things.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Keep Up To Date, Aggregate!

Nancy Crossfield's article in MLA News, Keep Up To Date, Aggregate (available to MLA members only) talks about how to use RSS as a method to not only to keep up to date on information but also to draw library users to their websites. Many of us already have SDIs or saved cubby searches that are emailed to our patrons with each database update. The concept of RSS is not that much different.

In addition to a list of various pay and free RSS Aggregators, Crossfield also directs us to Karen Schneider's Getting Started with RSS: the fifteen-minute tutorial which is a great way for librarians to learn how to quickly build a blog containing RSS feeds.

Librarians interested in starting a blog featuring medical news feeds displayed on library web site also need to work with their IT people. Perhaps they have a program they prefer you to use because your library's site is their intranet. You may also have to do some negotiating and some begging, not all IT departments are exactly thrilled with hospital employees getting into "their" system.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Pittsburgh Health Science Library System Uses Federated Search Engine to Search E-Books

The Pittsburgh HSLS is using a federated search engine by Vivisimo as a method to access more than 300 health and biomedical ebooks.

As many medical librarians know, electronic books come from a wide variety of vendors. In order to find information the patron must do multiple searches in each vendor's bundle of ebooks, which could be a time consuming process.

The process can be even more information when the patron is looking for an answer to a specific question. According to Deb Silverman, associate director for Resource Management for the HSLS, "The types of digital books that we buy are overwhelmingly clinical, clinical support materials, etc. They're not research tools; they're answer tools. Nobody actually reads these things. They just go in, find their info, and get out."

Silverman had been keeping an eye on federated searching as possible solution, but until recently she felt that federated search engines did a poor job of managing really large search results and handing medical language.

"HSLS chose Vivisimo Velocity in large part because of its ability to delineate between the various meanings of search terms through the clusters, or headings, generated by this product. 'It's really easy on a word that's pretty nebulous to know exactly where you want to go next while also getting a sense of the volume of material available on a particular subject,' says Silverman. 'The clustering resolves these linguistic conflicts very well."

Vivisimo Velocity package which uses two components to effectively manages large search results across multiple vendors. Vivisimo's Clustering Engine organizes search results into a series of folders, "enabling users to start with simple search queries and then drill down through these clusters to obtain the best information available." Vivisimo's Content Integrator, allows searches to be performed across multiple content providers. Vivisimo Velocity packages these two technologies into one product.

HSLS began running a prototype for internal testing in January 2005 and went live a couple of months later. According to HSLS, Vivisimo Velocity has been very successful.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Submit a Paper to MLA 2006

(forwarded from MEDLIB-L)
Are you doing something transformative/relevant/socially useful? Why not consider writing it up and submitting it for the Relevant Issues Section program for MLA in Phoenix?

Our program is entitled "Transformation Begins with a Single Step....Or, If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem...."

We plan a contributed papers session that takes a "swap'n'shop" or "show'n'tell" approach to showcase how medical libraries and medical information professionals promote (or provide services around) relevant issues---a review of "best practices".

We invite contributed paper proposals describing front line or real world responses to contemporary problems of access, social justice, etc.

Examples of the kinds of papers we seek include (but are not limited to)

* Library support for Doctors Without Borders or similar groups
* Top Ten (or twenty) titles for a diversity collection
* Designing an exhibition of health issues related to disasters
* Building a website on cultural competency concerns
* Library services for Latino/a or First Peoples populations
* Developing specialized CHI services for disabled vets
* Health information outreach to refugee populations
* Library services for LGBTQ health professions students
* Library assistance for community agencies serving LGBTQ commuities
* Providing "just-in-time" information resources re breaking news
[Schiavo case; tsunami/hurricane/earthquake; war; flu; etc]
*Building a tolerance/diversity toolkit
*Strategies for LIS education for diversity/cultural competence
* Etc., etc., etc.

Please submit your MLA '06 paper abstracts by November 7. You could be selected to present a paper in Phoenix, May 19-24, during MLA '06. Submission guidelines, FAQs, and program themes are available on MLANET at

CyberTools for Libraries Reviews and Thoughts

I am just about finished converting all of my card catalog records into an online catalog. All I have left are few odd ball books that need fixing or some orginal cataloging (ack) and I am set.

For any new readers out there.... I started working at my library in January and was horrified to see that they were still using a card catalog. It was waaaay past due to convert to an online system. Most of my patrons avoided the card catalog like the plague and instead would ask me directly if we had a book and if it was checked out.

So with limited budget and limited staff (me and a practicum student) we set out to get an online catalog. We looked at various products and selected one. We selected CyberTools for Libraries and we have been pleased ever since with the product and their service.

However, no system is perfect. Here are my thoughts after using the product for 2 months.

Library Staff Side of the Catalog:
The "back office" (library staff application) side of the CyberTools catalog can sometimes be a little clunky to use.

  • Display screens are small, when cataloging you can not see the whole record and you can not easily scroll down/up to view the whole record. You have to click the more button at the bottom of the screen to see the rest of the mark record.
  • Windows that have drop down menus are frustating because the scroll bar is not very mouse friendly.
  • Sometimes it is easy to get stuck in a loop of error messages when you accidently input the wrong information in a box.
  • Their use of End, Quit, Close buttons can be confusing to new users who don't know whether they are exiting that particular module like cataloging or if they are accidently exiting the entire system.

The faults that I find with the back office component are annoying and probably are more of a result of the programming platform it was created on. I would love to see it run more intuitively, have a full screen mode, and function more like a web program not a program on the web.

Patron Side of the Catalog:

The patron end of the CyberTools catalog is actually where I find I have the most criticisms. I admit this is a pet peeve of mine, I find that ALL online catalogs have crummy patron ends to their systems. I think as a whole we as librarians don't do a good enough job designing our websites or demanding our online catalogs be patron friendly.

  • The online catalog records display exactly like a card catalog. While this concept might have been a cute idea on paper, it does NOT translate well to the web. First, there is no clue to the user that they are looking at a card catalog view of a book record. (Really how many users now have ever used a card catalog...that number is getting smaller.) There is no background image to make it look like the information is on a card, there is just plain text. The call number is on the far left hand side and decends down the card. A few spaces to the right is the author and title information. CyberTools displays this information with no images or visual barriers (besides some white space) to prevent the patron's eye from combining the call number and the author/title information together. Yes they can figure it out, but at first it is confusing to read and it certainly isn't pleasing to they eye.

    Example of record for the ICU book: (note purple words were linked in the catalog)

    WX Marino, Paul L.
    218 The ICU book / Paul L. Marino ; illustrations by Pual Contino and
    M33395 Graphic World Illustrations Studio. -- 2nd ed. -- Baltimore : Williams
    1997 & Wilkins, c1998.
    xvii, 928 p. : ill. Includes bibliographical references and index.
    1. Intensive Care Units 2. Critical Care

    Volume/Issue/Year/Copy Library Location Call# Status
    Y=1997/C=1 Krafty's Library Gen.Col. WX 218 M33395 1997 available

  • There is no option to turn off the hyperlinks for the main entry. How many librarians have had users click on the main entry for a journal record like JAMA expecting to go straight to JAMA's site? Patrons see a hyperlink and expect to go somewhere when they click on it. They have no concept of authority files and they don't understand why when they click on the hyperlink to JAMA they aren't on JAMA's site. At my previous library we ended up turning off all of the hyperlinks to the main entry, it took a while to do it and it was a pain, but we did it.
  • Key information is displayed at the BOTTOM of the displayed record. In my opinion this is the worst offense. What is the patron side of the catalog for? The patron!
    For books the patron wants to know:
    1. Where in the library is it? 2. Is it available or checked out. 3. Is there an online version?
    For journals the patron wants to know:
    1. Is it online? 2. What years/issues are at the library? 3. What is the latest issue received?

    You might be able to argue the order of these specific three things the patron wants but for the most part these are the three most important things the patron wants to know. So why on earth is that information at the very bottom of the display screen?!

    Example of record for JAMA: (note purple words were linked in the catalog)

    SHELVED JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association. American
    WITH Medical Association. -- Vol. 173, no. 9 (July 2, 1960)- .
    JOURNALS -- Chicago : American Medical Association, 1960-
    v. : ill., ports.
    Weekly Title from caption. Vols. for 1960-1981 contain annually: Continuing education courses forphysicians, also issued separately as: Continuing education courses forphysicians for the period from ...; for 1982- contain semiannually:Continuing education opportunities for physicians, also issued separately as:Continuing education opportunities for physicians for the period ... Beginning with v. for 1987, Sept.-May issues include a section called: Pulse. Also available on the World Wide Web. Microfilm. v. 203-204 (1968), v. 207 (1969)-216 (1971 June), v. 218, no. 7-13(1971) [Bethesda, Md.] : National Library of Medicine, 1987. 26 microfilm reels: negative ; 35 mm. Continues: Journal of the American Medical Association 1. Medicine 2. Periodicals I. Continuing education courses for physiciansfor the period from ... II. Continuing education opportunities for physiciansfor the period ... III. Pulse. IV. Journal of the American Medical Association

    Connect to full text from any hospital computer. JAMA online(1993 - Present)

    Latest issue received on 10/13/05:
    Yr: 2005 Vol: 294 Iss: 14 Mon: OCT Day: 12
    Copy 1:
    Hold: 1995- : 273-
    HOLD: 2005 : 293N1-24/294/

    So the patron has to look through all of the goblety gook (in the patron's mind) to find the information most important to them. And when they do, the holdings information is not very patron friendly. They come up to me to ask whether we have volume 293 issue 12, I explain to them that 293N1-24 means that we have volume 293, issues 1 through 24. Only then does the light bulb come on.

Customization of the Catalog (Library Branding):

You are very limited on how you can customize the catalog. You are pretty much limited to adding your library logo at the top of the screen, changing the background color of the pages, and providing basic links at the bottom of the search screen. That is it. For librarians who don't have the time or skills to do the HTML to customize their OPAC this should be not that big of deal. For librarians who have the skill and make the time, this could be a disappointment. For me it was a disappointment, I was under the impression after their training class that you could really customize the look of the catalog if you knew HTML. Sadly this is not the case.

Service, MeSH, Price, Serials:

These are the four strongest reasons to get CyberTools for libraries.

  • The service is excellent. Not all vendor's help desk people are nice or helpful. Fortunately CyberTools have the most helpful, friendly, and responsive employees I have encountered. On average, if I email a question I get a response usually within that day. In other words I email them in the morning, I usually get a response before the afternoon. The service is AWESOME!
  • CyberTools has true MeSH integration including automated MeSH updates to MARC bibliographic records subject heading explosion, definitions, and trees.
  • You can not beat the price. It is an ASP hosted system, which means that you do not have to buy and host it on your own server (already saving you a lot of money). They also charge according to the number of library staff licenses. So if you have two employees but really only one will be using the system you only pay for one user.
  • The serials component is very flexible and easy to use. Setting it up can be a little tricky and time consuming (depending on the number of journals) but once it is set up processing journals and claiming is quite simple.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

WebJunction Tackling Tough Patron Medical Questions

For those you who might be unfamiliar, WebJunction is an "online community where library staff meet to share ideas, solve problems, take online courses and have fun." It tends to be lean a little more toward public libraries, but there are some things that can apply and benefit all libraries.

In November WebJunction will be focusing on "Tackling Tough Patron Questions", specifically legal and medical questions.

WebJunction is interested in sharing resources and techniques that their members use to help people find answers and how to help library patrons become better at helping themselves.
They would like to hear from librarians about some of the most difficult medical and legal questions encountered and what resources were used to deal with them. Additionally they are interested in training opportunties and policies that prepare librarians for these challenges.

This is a great opportunity for those of you in consumer health libraries and medical libraries to share some of your great resources, policies, stories, and knowledge with those are looking to learn from it. Share your favorite web sites and secrets. Perhaps you could learn something from others as well.

You can contribute your stories and tips by sending an email to [email protected] or posting to one of the WebJunction discussion Health Information Services.
** You must register as a member first to participate in the discussion, it is free.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Hospital library welcomes anyone looking for answers

Hospital library welcomes anyone looking for answers
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 10/12/05

This a neat little article where the Booker Health Sciences Library at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune encourages the public to come in and find health information.

"The Booker Health Sciences Library at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune offers current medical journals, books, audiovisual equipment, copy machines and computer access for public use at no charge.
Cathy Boss, library services coordinator, promoted the hospital's open-door policy during a recent monthly meeting of the Monmouth and Ocean County Brain Tumor Support Group Inc. at Wall Township Library."

Very cool.

AHA Backfiles Available

(courtesy of medinfo)
The full text articles of all online journals from the American Heart Association are now available back to their respective first issues. The AHA journals require a subscription to get the full text of and article within the current year, but back issues are freely available.

I guess I am a little bit of a geek because I always get a little excited about seeing free back files become available. Perhaps I need to get out more often.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Workflow of Electronic Resources

I have always known how cumbersome it can be to get some electronic resources, but the flow chart from Rick Anderson at the University of Nevada, Reno Libraries really illustrates the many paths and decisions that e-resources can take.

It is no wonder that recently I have been seeing a sudden increase in electronic resources librarian positions in the job ads. As more and more things become available in different flavors, shapes, sizes, colors, it now takes a full time professional just to deal with all of it. I would venture to say that many libraries have "accidental" electronic resources librarians. Librarians who were techie types to start out with but weren't necessarily systems librarians. As the amount of available resources grew so did their electronic resources workload. Gradually they morphed from the reference librarian who did electronic resources to the electronic resources librarian who did reference. As these librarians leave to find new jobs the old library discovers they have a need for an electronic resources librarian.

Obviously the explosive growth in electronic resources can lead to a lot of new things, whether it is IP range problems, finding money to support the resources, or finding personnel to support the resources.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Tablet PC's

The :30 Librarian blogs about how she was given a Tablet PC as part of her work for the Office of Medical Education. Earlier, in my September 30, 2005 post I mentioned how Tablet PCs are making a entrance into the portable digital medical world.

I can't wait to hear what WhitneyDT has to say about the new toy.


NLM is working on a project to map the OLDMEDLINE subject headings to current MeSH. This project should be ready fot he new 2006 PubMed system in December 2005.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Job Descriptions Without Salary Information

I happen to be looking through my email this rainy morning and I noticed a post on SOLOLIB-L regarding job postings without salary information.

The librarian said:
"I can't help but notice that when jobs are posted, they rarely include salary information.
Personally, I would never enquire about a position without an idea of the salary range.
(OK, I did once, we were all ecstatic about my fit with the organization until I revealed my salary requirements and the hiring managers blanched)
I find it is insulting that employers can be so specific about qualifications, and leave candidates uninformed about a critical parameter of the position.
Am I WAY off base here? How does everyone else feel?"

Amen. I am of the belief that it is a great waste of time for both the applicant AND the employer. I once applied for a position (a couple of years ago) that had a wonderfully detailed job description. It mentioned all of the languages, skills, and programs they required to do web development. However, it not only failed to mention salary but it also failed to mention that it was a TEMPORARY position. Only at the interview did I discover these things. Imagine how I blanched when I discovered that after a year I would be looking for another job.

My particular favorite ads are the ones that mention, "competitive salary" or "commensurate with experience and qualifications." These phrases just make me more frustrated and also make me wonder if they have really low salaries and are trying to lull more candidates in.

The vast majority of librarians I have talked to do not like the practice of posting job ads without salary. So why is this done? After all, don't the librarians write the job ad?! How many librarians complaining about the missing salary information have also posted job descriptions without salary information? If you have, then aren't you perpetuating the problem you are also complaining about?

I realize for some of us our institution or H.R. makes it a policy not put the salary information in the job ad. For those librarians where this is the case, have you asked why or tried to insist that the salary information be included?

There are always going to be people applying for jobs whether a salary is listed or not. The question you have to ask yourself is whether you are attracting the right employees or are you missing a large group of potential stars because you don't list a salary.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

MEDLINE/PubMed End of Year Activities

It's almost that time of year again, when NLM does its year-end maintenance. NLM will be changing the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH® ) on existing MEDLINE citations to conform with the 2006 version of MeSH, and performing other global changes. On November 17, 2005 NLM will temporarily halt the addition of fully-indexed MEDLINE citations to PubMed.

December 2005 (tentative date) the normal MEDLINE/PubMed update schedule will resume, and PubMed will use 2006 vocabulary in the MeSH translation tables and MeSH database, as well as in the citation data.

Remember: "In-process" citations will continue to be added to PubMed and you may need to change your search strategies to find the most recent articles in PubMed until the update is complete.

For more information on the NLM update:

This is also a good time to look over all of your SDIs and saved searches that you are sending/emailing to your patrons on a regular basis. Send them a quick note asking them if they are still interested in receiving the research and if they would like to make any adjustments to their current search or if they would like to add new ones.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Hospital Libraries and IP Validation

I was talking with another hospital librarian about databases and we got on the subject of IP validation. Ideally it is the easiest and best way (that I know of) to give our users access to the library's online databases. While on campus librarians and users don't have to worry about user names and passwords.

This librarian belonged to a hospital within a system that through the years acquired/assimilated various other smaller hospitals. In their quest to make every hospital a part of the whole system they made it so all of the hospitals share a range of IP addresses. There are five hospitals (each with their own library) in the system and all of them share the same range of IP addresses. There is no way to say range X belongs to hospital X and range Y belongs to hospital Y. According to the librarian, users from hospitals V,W,X,Y,Z are all coming from IP Range A.

According to the librarian, when she wants to subscribe to an electronic database or journal she must get four other librarians to agree and PAY for the resource. It is an all or nothing endeavor. The databases do not want to provide free access to the other hospitals/libraries, who won't or can't pay for access. This has made the process of getting electronic resources laborious and frustrating. The problem intensifies when there is a database like UpToDate that everybody wants but not every hospital is able and willing to pay for. The librarian must then explain to her patrons that she can not get access to the product because the other hospitals do not want it and because of the way IT set up the network she can not buy it only for her institution.

Try as she might she can not convince IT to fix the problem because according to her IT people it will cost too much time and money. So she is unable to build her library to the best of her ability and acquire wanted electronic resources.

I have got to believe that this is not completely unique among hospital libraries. What are other hospitals in this situation doing to provide electronic resources? How do they impress up on their large IT departments true enormity of the problem? In a system with 5 hospitals and thousands of employees how can one voice (or five librarian voices) be heard? What is the most effective way to make ones voice be heard without running into the brick wall of hospital IT bureaucracy?

WISER 2.1 Available

Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders (WISER) is a system designed to assist first responders in hazardous material incidents. WISER provides a wide range of information on hazardous substances, including substance identification support, physical characteristics, human health information, and containment and suppression advice.

The operational versions of WISER for Palm OS and Pocket PC are also available for download.

WISER Features:
  • Mobile support, providing First Responders with critical information in the palm of their hand.
  • Comprehensive decision support, including assistance in identification of an unknown substance and, once the substance is identified, providing guidance on immediate actions necessary to save lives and protect the environment.
  • Access to 400+ substances from NLM's Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB) which contains detailed information on over 4,700 critical hazardous substances
  • Rapid access to the most important information about a hazardous substance by an intelligent synopsis engine and display called "Key Info"
  • Intuitive, simple, and logical user interface developed by working with experienced first responders
Comming Soon:
Wiser On the Web.
And, based on requests, they are working on a PDA Web-browser version of that will operate on your Blackberry (as well, as other PDAs with wireless connectivity)

For more information on WISER go to:

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Library Bloggers Interview

Library Journal has an interesting interview with 7 librarians who blog. The interview discusses the impact on blogs in librarianship. The responses the bloggers provide us with a glimpse at the diversity with our profession and the blogging community.

Social Software

WebJunction's Making Sense of Social Software online discussion is now available.

Description: This is a recording of an online panel discussion, Making Sense of Social Software in the Library. Panel members Aaron Schmidt (Thomas Ford Memorial Library, IL), Andrea Mercado (Reading Public Library, MA), and Regan Robinson (Stevens County Rural Library District, WA) talk about projects they've implemented at their libraries and answer audience questions about what, why, and how to enhance your library's online presence.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Ovid's Resource of the Month

October's Resource of the Month: EMBiology (Ovid) & Pascal (SilverPlatter)

EMBiology covers non-clinical bioscience literature from around the world. EMBiology is a comprehensive bibliographic database offering cover-to-cover coverage of more than 2,800 non-clinical biology journals and trade publications published globally. Many titles indexed are unique to EMBiology including 1,800 not covered in EMBASE. EMBiology currently has more than 4 million records with 250,000 added annually.

PASCAL covers all the major international journals, reports, conference proceedings, periodical articles and doctoral dissertations in all aspects of the Sciences and Medical Sciences. Unique tri-lingual indexing means that the records in PASCAL can be searched using French, English or Spanish keywords, regardless of the original language of the article concerned.

Flu Wiki

I was clued into this site, Flu Wiki from a post on Web4Lib.

(from Flu Wiki's site)

"The purpose of the Flu Wiki is to help local communities prepare for and perhaps cope with a possible influenza pandemic. This is a task previously ceded to local, state and national governmental public health agencies."
Our goal is to be:
  • a reliable source of information, as neutral as possible, about important facts useful for a public health approach to pandemic influenza,
  • a venue for anticipating the vast range of problems that may arise if a pandemic does occur
  • a venue for thinking about implementable solutions to foreseeable problems

As David Mattison (who wrote a little review of Flu Wiki) said, there is scant information about the organizers of Flu Wiki. One one organizer gives her full name, Melanie Mattson, the rest give pseudonyms. I, like David, "would feel better if this site were affiliated or endorsed by a public health agency or two."

DemFromCT (an organizer of Flu Wiki) responded to David's criticism by saying, "OTOH, if there were such a site run by, let's say, CDC, we wouldn't need a Flu Wiki. it is precisely because CDC does not that we do. We'll be happy to take Flu Wiki off-line when a comparable official or authoritative source appears. In the meantime, Flu Wiki's links page will take you to offical resources, experts, etc. Flu Wiki is non-commercial and will not endorse products, drugs, purveyors of same, etc. And if you'll check the history of Wikipedia, you'll find an amazingly good track record of accuracy."

Hmm yeah, uh well there are quite a few thorough and authoritive sites on the Flu already, as David mentions, the CDC and the World Health Organization have excellent sites. We also know who is responsible for these sites and their medical qualifications. With all do respect we do not know who DemFromCT is and his/her qualifications. Please name a good authoritive medical information site in which the organizers only use pseudonyms and do not list any credentials?!

What sets this site apart from the same type of people who predicted doom and gloom on January 2000? I have serious reservations of a Wiki being a source of medical information. It would be interesting to find a medical wiki site which was organized by reputable health care professionals and see how that works.

You can follow more of David Mattison's criticism of Flu Wiki at The Ten Thousand Year Blog.

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The Krafty Librarian has been a medical librarian since 1998. She is currently the medical librarian for a hospital system in Ohio. You can email her at: